Jury begins deliberations in JOH drug trafficking case

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By Marco Echevarria

The future against the former president of the Republic (2014-2018 and 2018-2022) Juan Orlando Hernández is shortly to be known, as Judge Kevin Castel ordered the jury to begin deliberations and issue the verdict of guilt or not the former Honduran president…

After giving them instructions and explaining to them in detail the charges against Hernandez, Castel sent the jury to deliberate and reminded them that their verdict must be “unique” and that when they have it, send him a note.

As a council, Castel let the jury know that after their deliberations they do not consider a possible punishment for the former governor re-elected in 2017.

He also notified the jury that they had a laptop with the exhibits and if they consider that any testimony is read, they would also send a note.

Similarly, Castel instructed the jury that he can stay beyond 5:00 PM and call for verdict reading for Friday – March 8 – if necessary.

You can stay beyond 5 if you want, just send us a note. If he happens to be back tomorrow, he won’t be able to discuss the case. Thank you, the experienced judge of the Southern District Court of New York fired the jury.

The jury, which is made up of 12 New York citizens, was transferred to a special chamber, where to start the debate among themselves to reach an agreement and have the last word in the trial of aliases JOH.

Castel also removed three alternate jurors and ordered them not to comment on the case with anyone, or investigate. Similarly, he thanked them for their services.

How long will deliberation last?

According to Christian Girón and Fernando Maldonado, special envoys of Diario EL HERALDO, the process will take place as follows.

Once Hernandez’s cross-examination was over by the Prosecutor’s Office, the closing arguments began.

“Basically, it is the discourse, based on the evidence, through which both the prosecution and defense will try to strengthen the evidence and testimonies for 1 hour and 45 minutes,” Maldonado explained.

At this stage of conclusions, the prosecution urged the jury to find JOH guilty on the basis of the evidence presented, while the defence requested a favorable judgement for the former president.

The judge then issued the order for the jury to withdraw to deliberate. The jury is expected to make a decision this afternoon or at most on Friday to deliberate and issue a verdict on the guilt or innocence of Juan Orlando Hernandez on the drug trafficking charges.

However, despite some international media suggesting that the verdict could be given quickly due to the speed of the judicial process, Girón mentioned that Judge Castel has assured them that the jury will have the time it takes to reach a unanimous verdict.

On Tuesday he said that: If tomorrow they (the jury), unanimously decide that Juan Orlando Hernández is guilty or not guilty, tomorrow (today) the verdict could be given, Girón said.

However, according to Maldonado, he also emphasized that there is not a set day for the ruling. This could be announced on Thursday or Friday, but could also take up to two months.

In addition, Girón added that if there is a verdict tomorrow or Thursday that does not mean that the sentence will automatically be given. The judge would set a date for the reading of a sentence, which could result in life imprisonment plus 30 years, similar to what Juan Antonio Hernández, brother of Juan Orlando Hernández, received, on the same charges.

This article has been translated from the original which first appeared in El Heraldo